Figuring out what to pack for traveling around the world might seem daunting, right?
I mean, you have to fit your entire life into just a bag or two – and you need to pack everything you’ll need for a variety of situations and climates.
With limited space, how do you know what to pack in your bag for that trip around the world?
Well, what if I told you that it actually isn’t all that hard?
In this post I will show you the complete list of exactly what I pack to travel the world.
I travel the world full time. Most recently, I spent a year traveling around the world, going to 43 countries across six continents. I’ve gone hiking in Kyrgyzstan, snorkeling in Belize, off-roading in Bolivia, on safari in Kenya, and salsa dancing in Madrid. And I’ve done it all with what I could fit in a medium-sized Osprey Porter 46 L backpack and a day-pack.
And, honestly, I rarely feel like I’m missing anything critical in my bag. Most of the time, in fact, I wish I could trim the size of my pack a little further!
So how do you pack everything you’ll need for a trip around the world?
#1 Most importantly, don’t over-pack. You don’t need as much as you think, and you’re much more mobile the less you have to carry.
#2 The key is to focus on lightweight items that are multi-functional and to pare your bag down to those things you’ll really use on a frequent basis. Focus on quality over quantity.
#3 Make sure you have a really quality suitcase or backpack. You read more about the best travel backpacks here (this article is targeted to Europe-specific travel but still generally applicable).
Though it’ll, of course, be different for everyone based on your travel style, here’s what I’ve packed in my bag for my around the world adventure. Other than a few small things that I left with my family, the below list is every material possession I own in the world!
One last thing that it’s exactly in my bag, but is really important to consider packing with you for your tip: annual worldwide travel insurance. Click that link to learn the one reason I always buy it!
[affiliate disclosure: I may get a small commission if you make a purchase through the links on this page]
Osprey Packs Porter 46 L Travel Backpack – I love this travel backpack (click here to read my full Osprey Porter 46 review). It converts from a backpack to a porter bag, which is much easier for checking on planes (it can also work as a carry-on for most airlines). It’s not for hardcore backpacking and I wouldn’t want to take it along for serious trekking, but I’ve comfortably carried it for several kilometers at a time. I even took it through the Amazon jungle. It’s durable. It’s not overloaded with too many pockets. And it’s very affordable. And even it even survived the Songkran festival while I was traveling solo in Thailand! When you’re figuring out what to pack for traveling, starting with the right bag is important.
Osprey Daylite Daypack – A cheap and highly functional daypack which straps into my larger backpack. Both come with Osprey’s lifetime guarantee (I’ve carried them for years across 60+ countries without any issue).
Sony Alpha a6000 Mirrorless Digital Camera with 16-50mm Power Zoom Lens – I almost left to travel the world without a proper camera! But, after my uncle (a photographer) insisted I get a real camera, I purchased the Sony a6000 just before hitting the road. I’m glad I did! It takes incredible photos – including everything on my Instagram feed. It’s compact and it’s really affordable. Unless you’re a real pro, this camera you everything you could need at a budget price. [note: this is the UK version for readers across the pond]
Sigma 19mm f/2.8 DN Lens – This prime lens is affordable, shoots sharper than the kit lens, and is at a focal length that I find I use a lot on the road.
DJI Mavic Pro – I recently purchased this drone after a lot back and forth about whether to buy it. I haven’t used it enough yet to give it a full review, but it seems to be the most popular mid-range drone with travelers, as it collapses down and can fit in a small bag. This is definitely the most expensive item among everything I pack for traveling.
Wasabi Power Battery (2-Pack) and Charger – You can never have enough batteries for the camera. I really appreciated having packed extras when I was on safari and during my time in the Bolivian salt flats, as well as every time I go anywhere off the grid.
Sony 64GB Memory Card – I’ve gone through four of these already. But be sure to back up to the cloud too!
Case Logic DCB-304 Hybrid Camera Case (Black) – A cheap case that protects the camera inside my daypack. Don’t love it but don’t hate it enough to find a replacement. [see here for another traveler’s take on camera equipment]
ASUS Flip 2-in-1 PC/Tablet – It’s easier to book flights and accommodation if you don’t have to do it on your phone. But laptops are heavy. A Chromebook like this is a great solution – it weighs practically nothing, is sturdy, and is great for watching movies on the road. It’s also what I use to write this blog!
Apple iPhone 6 Plus 64 GB (Certified Refurbished) – What you have in your pocket is probably fine – but just make sure it’s GSM unlocked!
Kindle Paperwhite E-reader – You carry a whole library in the palm of your hand. The paperwhite element also really reduces eye strain. Note that if you get Amazon unlimited you get access to many e-books included. You can even use a trick to get every Lonely Planet free for a month.
Fintie Case for Kindle Paperwhite, Ancient Map – I just thought the map looked cool.
Anker PowerCore 13000, Compact 13000mAh 2-Port Power Bank – My favorite portable power bank. Just enough for 4 charges of the iPhone, but not too heavy to carry for a day.
DKnight Magicbox Ultra-Portable Wireless Bluetooth Speaker – Because sometimes you need tunes in your room. Or shower. Let’s be honest – this is mostly for shower jams.
Insten Universal All in One Worldwide Travel Power Plug Wall AC Adapter Charger – Bulky, but has worked literally everywhere I’ve been.
Panasonic Wireless Bluetooth In-Ear Headphones – Cheap but nice headphones. Saviors on those long bus rides through South America.
Clothing is, of course, going to vary for everyone. The keys, in my mind, are to pack enough for about 5-7 days. My top tip: don’t overthink it. If you’re worrying about what to pack for traveling the world, you probably shouldn’t be! Unless you plan to do a lot of hardcore outdoor trekking, you’re likely going to be mostly fine packing the clothes you already have at home.
Banana Republic Travelers Jeans (2 pair) – These are awesome multi-functional jeans that don’t look TOO out of style
Wool dress pants – I bought these in Rabat, Morocco for a wedding I had to attend last minute (more on that here). I wish I could find out the maker because they’re now my favorite pair of pants for hot weather.
Cheap single-color t-shirts (5 pair)
Button down dress shirt – I also bought in Morocco for the wedding.
Adidas Argentina Soccer Jersey – I love soccer jerseys (I also pack a USA one). You can wear them for almost any purpose. And I always get stopped by Argentineans when wearing this 🙂
Head Digital Sport Running Gloves – I love these as a lightweight glove option. I don’t spend much time in super cold climates, but these are great when the temperature dips at night while hiking.
Hiking Socks – Picked up a pair like this in Nepal. Worth splashing out for a nice set.
Underwear (7 pair) – You never want to run out of these.
Running shorts (2 pair) – I’ve thought about getting another pair because they are so multi-functional. You can wear them hiking, running, or even just as pajamas.
Belt – I picked up a super lightweight belt in Kuala Lumpur. The smaller and lighter the better.
Multi-functional jacket – Again, you probably already have a decent option at home.
Board shorts – You need a pair of swimming trucks for any sort of water sports, the beach, etc. And, in a real pinch on laundry day, they can double as normal shorts … not that I’ve ever done that… 😉
Sunglasses – I always lose them so just buy a cheap pair on the road. Just make sure they truly have UV protection (some foreign knockoffs fake it).
New Balance Men’s M560V6 Running Shoe – These are my go-to footwear. If I wasn’t a runner, I would pack some hiking shoes or something with better ankle coverage instead. But I’ve managed to climb mountains in these things.
Dress shoes – The heaviest item in my bag. But I love dancing so can’t give them up.
Havaianas Flip Flops – For the beach and those questionable hostel showers.
Compression Bags – How do I fit all those clothes in a 46 L bag? I use compression sacks to compact it all down!
Sunland Microfiber Ultra Compact Towel – Though I don’t love the feel of microfiber towels, you can’t deny how handy they are. It can pull duty as a blanket, a beach towel, or a bath towel.
LED Headlamp – If you plan to do anything outdoors, you’ll want one of these at night.
Bedtime Bliss BTB01 Contoured & Comfortable Black Sleep Mask – I lost this at one point and nearly went mad until I could find an exact replacement. You need an eyemask to sleep in rooms that often let in too much light (or have inconsiderate roommates who flick the lights on late at night). Normal eyemasks cut at your eyelids, but this one is contoured so it doesn’t.
Travel Folding Soft Toothbrush – If your toothbrush doesn’t fold into itself, can you really call yourself a traveler? ; )
Toiletries – Again, don’t overthink it. You can replenish on the road.
Medicine – I don’t take much, but always have anti-malarials, some antibiotics, plus a small assortment of headache and stomach medicine.
Mini First Aid Kit – Just some bandages, re-hydration salts, ibuprofen, and disinfectant.
Travel Umbrella – Worth the space in Europe. Usually make do with just a raincoat elsewhere.
Vaccine and ID Records
Wallet/Credit Cards/Extra Cash
Everything here in total weighs about 17 kilograms! I could probably get that down even further by consolidating my shoes and ditching a pair of jeans, but I find that this is a comfortable weight and easy enough to pack up quickly every day.
It’s hard to believe that I just basically made a short list of everything I own but, well, that’s more or less the life of a world traveler!
Oh, there is one other “thing” I bring with me that you should think about: annual worldwide travel insurance. Click that link to learn why!
Nate Hake has traveled to 65+ countries across six continents around the world and blogs about his travels at TravelLemming.com. He is from Denver, Colorado, and recently concluded a six month stint living in Mexico.